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Searching for the Next Elite Number One Center

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Old
12-20-2012, 10:56 PM
  #1
Stephen
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Searching for the Next Elite Number One Center

Will the Leafs ever find an elite number one center? It seems like in the modern era, the Leafs have largely been a respectable to good team whenever we've had number one center to hitch our fortunes to. Sittler in the 70s, Gilmour in the mid 90s, Sundin in the late 90s and early 2000s, with a few down years here and there, but with a great center in tow, it was relatively easy to whip things in shape.

Its been a few years since we lost Sundin in 2008 and we still don't have a very good idea of who we can bring in to fill the void. I just wanted to throw together a list of other teams and their searches for number one center over the past couple of decades to get a sense of how long or hard it is to get one, and the results are kind of depressing:

Anaheim - before Ryan Getzlaf, they had a couple of productive years if Andy McDonald, and before him, the only star center the Ducks had was a washed up Sergei Fedorov, whom was acquired in 2003, 10 years after the franchise was founded.

Buffalo - They still don't really have an answer for having lost Pat Lafontaine back in 1996 other than that one great year in 2007 when Briere (and Drury) were lighting the league on fire.

Calgary - Probably haven't had a legitimate number one center since Joe Nieuwendyk in the mid 90s, though they've had random big years from Mike Cammalleri.

Columbus - never really had one

Chicago - before Jonathan Toews emerged in the late 2000s, you're probably looking at Jeremy Roenick as their last legitimate elite first line centerman. I'm not counting guys like Alexei Zhamnov and Steve Sullivan.

Edmonton - assuming they have one now in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the last time they had a great center was Doug Weight in 2000-01.

Florida - have they ever had a great center?

Los Angeles - before Anze Kopitar broke through in the late 2000s, you had a couple of years of Jason Allison in the early 2000s, and then you'd have to go back to Wayne Gretzky, who left in 1996.

Montreal - I'm not even sure if Saku Koivu fits as a great number one center. The last statistically excellent center in Montreal was Pierre Turgeon in 1997...

Nashville - never

Islanders - before Tavares got there, the closest thing you had was one productive year out of Alexei Yashin, and before that, Pierre Turgeon in 1994.

Rangers - before the great name acquisition in Brad Richards, you're kind of looking at a random assortment of former superstars, productive veterans and kind of washed up guys like Lindros, Drury, Gomez, Nylander. You'd have to go back to prime Messier days in the mid 90s to find an elite number one center here.

Phoenix - maybe Jeremy Roenick dating to the early 2000s, but he wasn't as elite as he was with Chicago in the early 90s, before that, Dale Hawerchuk, 1990.

St. Louis - depending on your definition, you might be going back to Adam Oates/Pierre Turgeon/Doug Weight, probably not going to count a few months of Wayne Gretzky.

Vancouver - before Henrik Sedin, you're probably picking through names like Linden, Cassels, Ronning, Morrison, Messier (old), Nedved, who don't really count.

Washington - before Nicklas Backstrom, probably a veteran Adam Oates in the early 2000s.

Anyway, in summary, this is a position that urgently needs to be filled. Hopefully there's some draft or UFA bounty coming up ahead soon, because it can be a long process to get that kind of player on your team...

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12-20-2012, 11:33 PM
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I suggest you call Pittsburgh and see what Malkin would cost.

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12-20-2012, 11:42 PM
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#1 centers NEED to be drafted pretty much every time these days.

Nice summary, and yeah, kind of depressing. Go Bozak.

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12-20-2012, 11:54 PM
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#1 centers NEED to be drafted pretty much every time these days.

Nice summary, and yeah, kind of depressing. Go Bozak.
This is the most realistic option, and it means we won't have one for at least another couple of seasons, since whoever it is has yet to be drafted. There is no 1 C potential player in the system yet.

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12-21-2012, 12:01 AM
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I suggest you call Pittsburgh and see what Malkin would cost.
We can hope the salary cap gets lowered a lot and they need to trade him

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12-21-2012, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
Will the Leafs ever find an elite number one center? It seems like in the modern era, the Leafs have largely been a respectable to good team whenever we've had number one center to hitch our fortunes to. Sittler in the 70s, Gilmour in the mid 90s, Sundin in the late 90s and early 2000s, with a few down years here and there, but with a great center in tow, it was relatively easy to whip things in shape.

Its been a few years since we lost Sundin in 2008 and we still don't have a very good idea of who we can bring in to fill the void. I just wanted to throw together a list of other teams and their searches for number one center over the past couple of decades to get a sense of how long or hard it is to get one, and the results are kind of depressing:

Anaheim - before Ryan Getzlaf, they had a couple of productive years if Andy McDonald, and before him, the only star center the Ducks had was a washed up Sergei Fedorov, whom was acquired in 2003, 10 years after the franchise was founded.

Buffalo - They still don't really have an answer for having lost Pat Lafontaine back in 1996 other than that one great year in 2007 when Briere (and Drury) were lighting the league on fire.

Calgary - Probably haven't had a legitimate number one center since Joe Nieuwendyk in the mid 90s, though they've had random big years from Mike Cammalleri.

Columbus - never really had one

Chicago - before Jonathan Toews emerged in the late 2000s, you're probably looking at Jeremy Roenick as their last legitimate elite first line centerman. I'm not counting guys like Alexei Zhamnov and Steve Sullivan.

Edmonton - assuming they have one now in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the last time they had a great center was Doug Weight in 2000-01.

Florida - have they ever had a great center?

Los Angeles - before Anze Kopitar broke through in the late 2000s, you had a couple of years of Jason Allison in the early 2000s, and then you'd have to go back to Wayne Gretzky, who left in 1996.

Montreal - I'm not even sure if Saku Koivu fits as a great number one center. The last statistically excellent center in Montreal was Pierre Turgeon in 1997...

Nashville - never

Islanders - before Tavares got there, the closest thing you had was one productive year out of Alexei Yashin, and before that, Pierre Turgeon in 1994.

Rangers - before the great name acquisition in Brad Richards, you're kind of looking at a random assortment of former superstars, productive veterans and kind of washed up guys like Lindros, Drury, Gomez, Nylander. You'd have to go back to prime Messier days in the mid 90s to find an elite number one center here.

Phoenix - maybe Jeremy Roenick dating to the early 2000s, but he wasn't as elite as he was with Chicago in the early 90s, before that, Dale Hawerchuk, 1990.

St. Louis - depending on your definition, you might be going back to Adam Oates/Pierre Turgeon/Doug Weight, probably not going to count a few months of Wayne Gretzky.

Vancouver - before Henrik Sedin, you're probably picking through names like Linden, Cassels, Ronning, Morrison, Messier (old), Nedved, who don't really count.

Washington - before Nicklas Backstrom, probably a veteran Adam Oates in the early 2000s.

Anyway, in summary, this is a position that urgently needs to be filled. Hopefully there's some draft or UFA bounty coming up ahead soon, because it can be a long process to get that kind of player on your team...
How many good goalies were there, behind all those great # 1 center's, and how many of those teams that needed a top center had a goalie that carried them?

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12-21-2012, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Hanta Yo View Post
This is the most realistic option, and it means we won't have one for at least another couple of seasons, since whoever it is has yet to be drafted. There is no 1 C potential player in the system yet.
You obviously haven't heard that Connor Brown was the steal of the 2012 NHL entry draft

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12-21-2012, 12:39 AM
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We can hope the salary cap gets lowered a lot and they need to trade him
Gardiner, Grabovski and KEssel might get a counter offer.



You can't justify paying the price it would take to get a Malkin type player.

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12-21-2012, 06:44 AM
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Kadri by all accounts will be a point machine in the NHL. He will also unfortunately always be seen as to small. I have watched Kadri develope,and will continue watching him develope,but he is elite already in some areas at the AHL.

He could be that centerman in 3-4 years.

That said,McKegg has 2nd or 3rd line center potential easily. McKegg if you have watched him with the Marlies is very trusted by the coach.He was out late third period with the Marlies leading 5-0 over the Griffins forchecking hard for a long time,and was just burned out big time returning to the bench,but he was head down,and all he had left(full out) getting back to the bench.

Thats the way he is all the time,and he is a impressively hard working smart player.

Just wanted to give him a tip of the hat!


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12-21-2012, 08:29 AM
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So are you trying to say that we may not exactly need a #1 guy in the traditional sense? Trying to justify us not having one?I'm kind of confused,its interesting because it sounds like maybe we don't need a real #1 and can use Grabo there or something.

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12-21-2012, 08:36 AM
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How many good goalies were there, behind all those great # 1 center's, and how many of those teams that needed a top center had a goalie that carried them?
This. Our fates tend to be linked more to quality goaltending than to a centre. Yes, it would be nice to have a centre but I would quite frankly settle for the Boston model (no true #1 centre) paired with a true top goalie.

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12-21-2012, 08:42 AM
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Firstly I LIKE BOZAK. Not necessarily as a #1c and i May be the only person, however i definitely think that he is an excellent player to have on this team. Great utility guy that can be used in many different roles. Hes also always improving. I dont think we've seen his best hockey yet. Once he gets a little more confidence with the puck, he really could develop into something special. (call me stupid)

Secondly i really don't think #1c is the biggest need, its hands down goaltending.

Thirdly lets have a reality show and have rando's try out. Maybe i can get my chance in that spotlight... NAWT lol.

Nazem Kadri is going to be a special hockey player, Randy Carlyle really likes him and i can definitely see him being our #1c in the near future. Not permanently because that line really won't have enough size.

We shall see

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12-21-2012, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by KuleminFan41 View Post
So are you trying to say that we may not exactly need a #1 guy in the traditional sense? Trying to justify us not having one?I'm kind of confused,its interesting because it sounds like maybe we don't need a real #1 and can use Grabo there or something.
You directing that to me? I think you need that as a team,and i always want that,but Kadri is definately going to be capable of that in the near future regardless what some here think of him.

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12-21-2012, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by HockeyGuruPitka View Post
Firstly I LIKE BOZAK. Not necessarily as a #1c and i May be the only person, however i definitely think that he is an excellent player to have on this team. Great utility guy that can be used in many different roles. Hes also always improving. I dont think we've seen his best hockey yet. Once he gets a little more confidence with the puck, he really could develop into something special. (call me stupid)

Secondly i really don't think #1c is the biggest need, its hands down goaltending.

Thirdly lets have a reality show and have rando's try out. Maybe i can get my chance in that spotlight... NAWT lol.

Nazem Kadri is going to be a special hockey player, Randy Carlyle really likes him and i can definitely see him being our #1c in the near future. Not permanently because that line really won't have enough size.

We shall see
I like Bozak too in the context you qualified him.

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12-21-2012, 10:13 AM
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Will the Leafs ever find an elite number one center? It seems like in the modern era, the Leafs have largely been a respectable to good team whenever we've had number one center to hitch our fortunes to. Sittler in the 70s, Gilmour in the mid 90s, Sundin in the late 90s and early 2000s, with a few down years here and there, but with a great center in tow, it was relatively easy to whip things in shape.

Anyway, in summary, this is a position that urgently needs to be filled. Hopefully there's some draft or UFA bounty coming up ahead soon, because it can be a long process to get that kind of player on your team...
"Strength down the middle" isn't just a catch phrase but a way to successfully build a winning team.

Finding a #1 center is not easy and the best way to usually accomplish that for most teams is through the draft process. This season for example Nate Mackinnon sits as the prize for some lucky team to hitch their wagon to, as was the case in previous drafts where Stamkos, Tavares, Seguin, RHN etc sat available for selection by teams to address that future #1 center position.

Our Leafs biggest problem on why we haven't been able to find a Sundin replacement in all the 13 years he was here, and to present is the "draft schmaft" mentality of management to sacrifice the future and the draft, for instant returns, using the greatest asset available (draft picks) as currency to fuel that intended desire.

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12-21-2012, 10:27 AM
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We can hope the salary cap gets lowered a lot and they need to trade him
Pittsburgh traded Jordan Staal in order to keep Crosby/Malkin pairing in a Cap World.

Teams will always first attempt to keep their star players in a Cap World and sacrifice secondary players. replacing them with cheaper young players usually on ELC..

The players forced off of teams are the middle of the road players overpaid and under-producing for their Cap space to contract ratio.

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12-21-2012, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Mess View Post
"Strength down the middle" isn't just a catch phrase but a way to successfully build a winning team.

Finding a #1 center is not easy and the best way to usually accomplish that for most teams is through the draft process. This season for example Nate Mackinnon sits as the prize for some lucky team to hitch their wagon to, as was the case in previous drafts where Stamkos, Tavares, Seguin, RHN etc sat available for selection by teams to address that future #1 center position.

Our Leafs biggest problem on why we haven't been able to find a Sundin replacement in all the 13 years he was here, and to present is the "draft schmaft" mentality of management to sacrifice the future and the draft, for instant returns, using the greatest asset available (draft picks) as currency to fuel that intended desire.
The first center taken in the 2012 entry draft was not until #3 then 11th was next. We took the best offensive defenseman in the draft 5th (a sure thing) thats not draft schmaft.

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12-21-2012, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by HockeyGuruPitka View Post
Firstly I LIKE BOZAK. Not necessarily as a #1c and i May be the only person, however i definitely think that he is an excellent player to have on this team. Great utility guy that can be used in many different roles. Hes also always improving. I dont think we've seen his best hockey yet. Once he gets a little more confidence with the puck, he really could develop into something special. (call me stupid)

Secondly i really don't think #1c is the biggest need, its hands down goaltending.

Thirdly lets have a reality show and have rando's try out. Maybe i can get my chance in that spotlight... NAWT lol.

Nazem Kadri is going to be a special hockey player, Randy Carlyle really likes him and i can definitely see him being our #1c in the near future. Not permanently because that line really won't have enough size.

We shall see
Teams with poor goalies have won cups as recently as 2010 (Chicago). I cant recall the last team with poor C depth that won a cup.

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12-21-2012, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by HockeyGuruPitka View Post
Firstly I LIKE BOZAK. Not necessarily as a #1c and i May be the only person, however i definitely think that he is an excellent player to have on this team. Great utility guy that can be used in many different roles. Hes also always improving. I dont think we've seen his best hockey yet. Once he gets a little more confidence with the puck, he really could develop into something special. (call me stupid)

Secondly i really don't think #1c is the biggest need, its hands down goaltending.

Thirdly lets have a reality show and have rando's try out. Maybe i can get my chance in that spotlight... NAWT lol.

Nazem Kadri is going to be a special hockey player, Randy Carlyle really likes him and i can definitely see him being our #1c in the near future. Not permanently because that line really won't have enough size.

We shall see
The term special shouldn't be reserved for guys like Bozak/Kadri.

I see Bozak in the same light as Dominic Moore. Misslotted as a center on the top 2 lines but can be a very good speedy 3rd line center who can jump up to the 2 hole in a pinch and perform adequately.

Kadri has the potential to be a low end # 1 center in the same way that guys like Ribeiro or Roy have had a few seasons where there average # 1 to low end # 1 centers. If Kadri was going to be a true # 1 he'd have already been making an impact in the NHL.

Getzlaf is the best hope for this team to get a true # 1 center.

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12-21-2012, 11:04 AM
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This. Our fates tend to be linked more to quality goaltending than to a centre. Yes, it would be nice to have a centre but I would quite frankly settle for the Boston model (no true #1 centre) paired with a true top goalie.


Boston has three potential # 1 centers. I don't even see this as an argument. Krecji plays top line, minutes is decent at face offs, an he is a quality playmaker. Bergeron is a defencive beast who is almost always put out against the other teams top lines. He is a leader in face off percentage. Can dish the puck and has good hands. And well seguins a natural center. He is also a potential "true" number one center.

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12-21-2012, 11:13 AM
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The term special shouldn't be reserved for guys like Bozak/Kadri.

I see Bozak in the same light as Dominic Moore. Misslotted as a center on the top 2 lines but can be a very good speedy 3rd line center who can jump up to the 2 hole in a pinch and perform adequately.

Kadri has the potential to be a low end # 1 center in the same way that guys like Ribeiro or Roy have had a few seasons where there average # 1 to low end # 1 centers. If Kadri was going to be a true # 1 he'd have already been making an impact in the NHL.

Getzlaf is the best hope for this team to get a true # 1 center.
That statement about Kadri is to generalized to merit much agreement i'm thinkin. He has been one of the hottest players in the AHL never mind just with the Marlies. He is still developing elite hands/hockey IQ into a consistant dependable package to bring to the leafs.

A prospect is view tomorrow not today,and that being said needs to be let to develope. He will only get better under Eakins/Carlyle as he is showing.

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12-21-2012, 11:19 AM
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Boston has three potential # 1 centers. I don't even see this as an argument. Krecji plays top line, minutes is decent at face offs, an he is a quality playmaker. Bergeron is a defencive beast who is almost always put out against the other teams top lines. He is a leader in face off percentage. Can dish the puck and has good hands. And well seguins a natural center. He is also a potential "true" number one center.
They didn't have a single true #1 centre when they won the Cup.

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12-21-2012, 11:25 AM
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This. Our fates tend to be linked more to quality goaltending than to a centre. Yes, it would be nice to have a centre but I would quite frankly settle for the Boston model (no true #1 centre) paired with a true top goalie.
If Toronto had not traded with Boston in the past and used them as a model, we could have Rask as #1G, Seguin as #1C and Hamilton as #1D potentially right now, and have all 3 key team building block positions addressed without "draft schmaft" mentality.

Leafs situation and future would look a lot more promising at the moment if those were our key building block positions addressed via the entry draft as opposed to attempting to trade our way to success, leaving us without the #1C or #1G positions filled.

Impatient GMs has long been Leafs downfall as previous trades (Tom Kurvers) cost us Eric Lindros as #1C or worst case Scott Niedermayer #1D, and prior trades cost us the pick that was used #4 overrall to draft Roberto Luongo, and without the Nolan Trade, Leafs could have drafted Mike Richards with their selection in 2003 draft and addressed a #1C position.


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12-21-2012, 11:26 AM
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Teams with poor goalies have won cups as recently as 2010 (Chicago). I cant recall the last team with poor C depth that won a cup.
The thread isn't about centre depth, rather the need for an elite #1 centre. Boston had no elite centre, just quality depth, which is all you need. Even with their quality depth it took all time historic numbers from the goalie to win it, going through multiple 7 game series and possibly the worst ever winning % en route to a Cup.

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12-21-2012, 11:28 AM
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If Toronto had not traded with Boston in the past and used them as a model, we could have Rask as #1 G, Seguin as #1 C and Hamilton as #1 D potentially right now, and have all 3 key team building block positions addressed without "draft schmaft" mentality.

Leafs situation and future would look a lot more promising at the moment if those were key building block positions addressed.
They could also have none of them. Not sure what your point is given Boston is the prime example of winning by NOT building through the draft, given they had 4 self drafted regulars on their Cup winning team and not a single 1st rounder.

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